Diablo 3 Season 12

Last Thursday was the start of Diablo 3’s Season 12. Once again I abandoned my paragon levels and stash full of ancient legendaries so I could start fresh. This time around I am playing a necromancer. My thought was this was the only class I haven’t finished all the set dungeons for, so if I can get all the pieces I need I can knock that out as part of the season journey and check off one of my long-term goals.

I haven’t been very engaged with D3 lately, and even though I’m participating in the season it is not my gaming focus. Still, I managed to knock out the first four chapters of the season journey over the weekend. That earned me my cosmetic rewards, which include a nice portrait and a sweet set of druid-themed wings.

I don’t have any plans to push much farther into the journey, but I’ve been enjoying myself enough to keep playing for now. I got a carry from a friend which helped beef up my paragon levels a bit, and can solo T8 without breaking a sweat. I don’t love the blood magic theme of the free set necromancers get this season, but I don’t have a full set of anything else yet. I need to get a few more key pieces of gear so I can handle T13 and push greater rifts. We’ll see if I stick with this season long enough to do that, or if I wander back to Destiny 2 where all my friends are right now.

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November 2017 Gaming Goals

What is it about getting older that makes the months seem to go by in a blur? Probably the lack of sleep from playing too many games. Anyway it’s time to review my October goals and make some new ones for November.

October Goals in Review:

WoW: Level either my warrior or my horde monk to 60. Done! I did even better and got my warrior to 100 and got her artifact.

Get at least one more of the concordance pet/mount/toy rewards I’m missing. Done! I think I actually have all of the concordance rewards now, unless there’s one for warriors that I’m not aware of.

D3: Master the last Necromancer set dungeon. Nope. I didn’t get much D3 time in this month at all.

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Done!

Destiny 2: Hit the level cap. Done!


November Goals:

WoW: Get the warrior to 110. This should be reasonable to do in a weekend, especially if I can catch some invasions and/or the darkmoon faire. Once I get her class mount I can call Legion “finished” as far as I’m concerned.

Destiny 2: Try the raid. I’m having a blast in D2 so far and I want to capitalize on the fact that so many of my friends are playing right now too. I still have no illusions about being hardcore or good at this game, but I’d like to at least see what a raid in Destiny looks like.

Diablo 3: Finish the last Necromancer set mastery I’m missing. I really do want to knock this out and put set dungeons behind me forever (until new classes or sets come along anyway).

Complete the baseline chapters of the Season 12 journey. I’m not really feeling D3 much right now but a new season starts soon and I want to try to get the cosmetic goodies during the initial rush like I usually do. There’s new wings this season and I don’t want to miss out on them!


That’s a very modest list for November, hopefully that will set me up for success!

October 2017 Gaming Goals

Another month, another round of gaming goals. I was surprisingly productive in WoW last month, and also knocked out one very large long-term D3 goal. What’s in store this month?

September Goals in Review:

WoW: Get my shaman class mount. Done! DK mount too!

Do more Robosquids stuff. Nope. With the GW2 expansion and Destiny 2 releases, we just couldn’t get everyone together to play.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Finish a second playthrough to see all the updates. Nope. I made a bunch of progress on it though. I’m enjoying this replay and don’t want to rush.

D3: Finish the Barbarian set mastery. Done! This is one of the most satisfying gaming goals I’ve ever achieved. Those set mastery wings were worth it!

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Done!


October Goals:

WoW: Level either my warrior or my horde monk to 60. I’ve been bouncing between these two characters and I want to pick one and get some solid leveling done.

Get at least one more of the concordance rewards I’m missing. I’ve gotten most of the mounts, pets, and toys for the characters I have at 110. My rogue is still missing 2 mounts, and I don’t have any of the hunter rewards yet, so those are what I need to focus on this month.

D3: Master the last Necromancer set dungeon. I went digging through my achieves and realized I’m only missing one mastery for the Necro. There’s no fancy rewards for mastering all the Necromancer dungeons, but it just doesn’t feel right to leave this unfinished.

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Wait wasn’t this a goal I completed last month? Yes but… it turns out I’ll be getting a new phone soon, and plan to switch from iOS to Android. That means starting over. Ugh. I’ve been messing around with the game on my (android) tablet some already, so hopefully in a month I can get mostly caught back up.

Destiny 2: Hit the level cap. The game launches late in the month, and I don’t want to rush myself.  I do expect to be spending a lot of quality time with it though, so I think this goal is reasonable in a week of play time.

Set Mastery Wrap-Up

Screenshot051I finally finished my goal of getting some sweet wings by mastering all of the (pre-necromancer) set dungeons in Diablo 3. When set dungeons were first announced and they previewed those wings, I knew I had to have them. Unfortunately when set dungeons actually launched I did not enjoy them at all. There’s been a set dungeon requirement in every season since they debuted in early 2016, and it has always been one of the season journey tasks I’ve dreaded. I think that completing the full season journey in season 10 gave me the confidence and drive I needed to dust off this goal and get moving on it.

Working on set dungeon mastery made me realize that I needed to adjust my outlook and playstyle drastically in order to succeed. In a strange way the set dungeons remind me of PvP in MMOs, because you are playing the game in a different way than you are used to, and because you have to make your peace with the fact that you’re going to die a lot but dying is only a temporary setback. Making it all the way through a dungeon only to realize that you never found enough big groups to finish one of your objectives feels bad, but eventually you learn to weigh your success after the first minute of the dungeon or so, and just start over if you got an unlucky spawn. Also like PvP, knowing the map ahead of time and using it to your advantage will make life far easier. I generally tried to run each dungeon blind on my first attempt, but after that I looked up a map and planned out my route.

Having the right gear and builds is a huge part of this process, but I also found that, with a few exceptions, you shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of good. You need your set pieces to unlock the dungeon, and there are often 1 or 2 key legendaries that really make the objectives possible. Anything after that will make your clears easier, but is probably not required. There were several times when I had looked up the gear list* for a particular build and spent hours trying to farm specific items, then finally gave up and just ran with whatever I had laying around and it worked fine.

Mastery

Speaking of gear, I got very good at farming during this project. Unless you’re aiming for a set mastery conquest, I would highly suggest using non-seasonal characters. On some classes, like my witch doctor, I already had almost everything I needed in my stash, and it was just a matter of running a few rifts with her to get the last few pieces. For monk and barbarian, which I had barely leveled to 70 before and had no clue how to play, farming everything was a more daunting proposition. My method was to primarily use my demon hunter to fill up to capacity on blood shards, then swap to the other class and take my chances with Kadala. If you had a buddy willing to carry you around, farming T13 on the correct class would be optimal. I used a combination of solo greater rifts, so I could get shards quickly and level up gems, and T13 farming with random strangers so I could also pick up plenty of death’s breaths. Just like farming on a fresh seasonal character, I used Kadala for armor and upgraded rare items in the cube for weapons and jewelry. Doing it non-seasonal meant that I had plenty of mats for hellfire amulets, and staples like focus/restraint laying around which saved me a lot of time.

This was a huge project and honestly at this point I’m very glad that it is over. It was occasionally fun, and sometimes frustrating. On average it was more entertaining than I expected it to be but I’m in no hurry to go through this again. On the plus side it did force me to try out almost all of the different classes and playstyles in the game. Only the necromancer is left, and I’m curious whether I will ever bother to master those dungeons since there’s no pretty wings to get. For now I’m going to savor this accomplishment and take a much-needed break from set dungeons.

 

*I used a bunch of sources to help me choose gear and skills along the way, but I want to give a special shout-out to Team BRG which was the most useful, clear, and organized. Most importantly, they included maps with optimal clear paths. I could have finished my mastery without their guides, but it would have been a much more painful process.


Collected posts for each class:

Demon Hunter: Easiest – Natalya’s; Hardest – Marauder’s

Wizard: Easiest – Delsere’s; Hardest – Vyr’s

Crusader: Easiest – Invoker’s; Hardest – Akkhan’s

Witch Doctor: Easiest – Zunimassa’s; Hardest – Helltooth

Monk: Easiest – Sunwuko’s; Hardest – Inna’s

Barbarian: Easiest – Immortal King’s Call; Hardest – Wrath of the Wastes

Barbarian Mastered

Screenshot052

Barbarian. The last of the RoS-era Diablo 3 classes that I still needed to master for my wings. There was some misery to be had here, partly because I really have no clue how to play a barbarian and partly because of the dungeons being awful.

I had most of the Might of the Earth set laying around, so I focused on that dungeon first. This one was very hard for me. The objectives were to use leap, ground stomp, and earthquake in under 6 seconds on every elite, and to freeze and kill at least 1 enemy every 10 seconds for one minute. These felt pretty daunting, especially since I don’t know much about playing a barbarian. On my first attempt I got the freeze objective but didn’t even hit a single elite with the required 3 attacks. As I kept attempting it, I lost count of my failures. Either the elites would die too quickly, or more often the cooldown on earthquake would not quite be finished when I engaged the next elite. The map is quite large but I got used to it over the course of many attempts, and when I finally mastered it I had almost a minute leftover. Success came when I slowed down and made sure all my abilities were ready before I engaged each elite.

Second on the list was the Immortal King’s Call. This one goes up there with the Invoker’s set dungeon on the list of the easiest ones to master. Your objectives are to kill all of the elites while the 400% damage bonus from the set is active, and to kill 150 enemies while Wrath of the Berserker is active. I one-shot this one, without looking at the map and without even really taking the time to familiarize myself with the requirements or my abilities. I had an entire minute left on the timer too. If you’re looking for an easy one to complete your season’s journey, this is a good bet.

Raekor’s was up next. The objectives are to hit 15 different enemies with a single furious charge (x6), and to hit 15 enemies with a 3750% damage bonus spender. Both objectives were pretty easy independently, but it took 2 tries to get both done and still have enough kills for the mastery. The map is one big loop so it is deceptively simple, but there are a lot of corners and side passages for mobs to hide in. Luckily all those corners also make it pretty easy to group up enough to hit with your furious charge. Overall this one wasn’t bad.

The very last dungeon I needed to complete Barbarian mastery and to complete the achievement for all the pre-necromancer masteries was the Wrath of the Wastes dungeon. Little did I know that it is hands down the worst set dungeon in the game. The first objective isn’t too bad, Rend 10 enemies at once (x5). There’s plenty of enemies and once you get the hang of the layout you’ll know exactly where you’re likely to find big enough groups. And you will be learning the layout. Intimately. Because the second objective is awful and you will fail a lot, or at least I did. “Do not take any physical damage for the duration of the dungeon. A tiny goblin hits you? Fail. A swinging scythe hits you? Fail. Something sneezes in your general direction? Fail. After about 3 attempts I got my fancy Wings of the Dedicated (for completing every set dungeon). They’re very pretty but sadly I’ll probably never wear them since the mastery ones are way cooler. It took me three hours and I don’t know how many attempts to actually master this dungeon. All I can say is pray to RNGsus and be super careful.

Screenshot053

They’re not the mastery wings, but they are still very pretty…

And with that I have completed all of the set masteries except the Necromancer. Some of the Barbarian ones were rough for me, even more so than the monk. They certainly did nothing to make me want to play this class in the future. At this point I wish I had saved something I like better for last, but for now I’m glad it’s over. I’ll be sharing some of my overall thoughts in a follow-up post soon.

September 2017 Gaming Goals

Oh crap it’s September already! Aside from the semester starting and my stress levels kicking into overdrive, it also means it’s time for my monthly gaming goals update.

August Goals recap:

FFXIV: Level my AST. I did it! Hooray! I still can’t decide whether I like AST or SCH better though.

Clear at least 1 boss of Omega Savage. Nope. We got the first boss down to something ridiculous like 0.1%, but that group ended up disbanding. Sadness.

Diablo 3: Finish Barbarian set mastery. Nope. I’ve been super unmotivated in D3 and combined with terrible luck with drops I still don’t have the last set I need to try the 4th dungeon.

WoW: Get back to the Robo-squids project. Yes! We got through Blackfathom Deeps and Gnomergan this month. News flash: I still hate Gnomer just as much as I ever have (which is a lot).

I got half of my goals for the month done. That’s not too terrible!


September Goals:

WoW: Get my shaman class mount. I leveled her up to 110 in August. Now it’s a matter of gearing up and getting through the Broken Shore quests to unlock the mount questline.

Do more Robosquids stuff. I’ve been loving this project but it’s hard to find times when all 4 of us can play. I resolve to pester my friends until we get it back on the schedule. (You’ve been warned, guys!)

Horizon Zero Dawn: Finish a second playthrough to see all the updates. It’s this month’s Aggrochat game of the month so I’m doubly motivated!

D3: Finish the Barbarian set mastery. I know I can do this. I just need a push. And I really need to get it done before Destiny 2 releases on PC and starts filling the “murder monsters, get loot explosion” slot in my gaming time.

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Legendary: Game of Heroes is a mobile game with a super boring name and very sticky gameplay for me. It’s like a much slicker-looking, slightly less confusing Puzzle and Dragons. The weekly-ish events give pretty good chances at strong cards and materials to upgrade them, so hopefully I can get a maxed-out team by the end of the month.


You’ll note that FFXIV has fallen off the list. I’m just not into it lately, and forcing myself right now is likely to end in a full stop instead of a brief pause. I do still want to try to show up for raid nights more to hang out with my friends than anything else.

I think this month’s goals are pretty reasonable. I just need to remember to play HZD for the main story and not all the side content or there’s no way I’ll finish in time…

August 2017 Gaming Goals

I’m a few days late with this one since I’ve been AFK for most of this week. I had set a few somewhat ambitious goals for July and did a decent job on them. Let’s see what August brings!

July Goals recap:

FFXIV: Clear both EX primals.  Check! I still haven’t done this with a FC group, but I did at least get my kills.

Advance at least one of my Anima weapons at least one step. Nope. I dialed my play time back and mostly focused on current content.

Level my AST.  Not really. I did get a couple levels, but AST is still not 70. The problem here is that they fixed some of the problems with scholar, so I felt way less motivated to have the 2nd healer job.

Figure out how to buy a house. I do know how to buy a house now so I’ll count this as a win. I haven’t actually bought one because I’m still waiting for people to move out to the new zone so I can find open property in Mists.

Diablo 3: Complete the basic season 11 journey with a necromancer. Done! I haven’t gone much past the first 4 chapters but this is still a win.

Complete the challenge rift every week. Nope. I did attempt it every week, but last week’s build was really difficult and I didn’t manage to clear it under the timer.

Master all the crusader set dungeons. Done! I was an overachiever and got monk and witch doctor too!


August Goals:

FFXIV: Level my AST. I’m so close it really is silly that I still haven’t finished this.

Clear at least 1 boss of Omega Savage. This might be a matter of flinging myself at pugs until I smash through, but I’d love to get this done.

Diablo 3: Finish Barbarian set mastery. I’ve only got one barbarian dungeon left to master in order to get my fancy wings. It might mean giving up on much seasonal progress this time around, but I can do this!

WoW: Get back to the Robo-squids project. There’s an awful lot of dungeons left for our little undergeared, underleveled, undersized group to get through, and now that the new game shine is starting to fade from Stormblood I’m ready to jump back in.


I think these are pretty modest goals for the month, and they’re all things that I really do want to get around to. I can’t wait to post about my pretty new wings!

Season 11 and Necro Wings

Season 11 started with a very relaxed pace since opening night was a Thursday instead of the usual Friday. By the end of the weekend, though, I had completed through chapter iv and a bit more besides. First things first: the Necromancer is a joy to play. I’m still not sure whether it is because it is genuinely fun or simply because it is the first truly new thing we’ve had in D3 in a long time, but either way I’m loving it. I’ve been using the Rathma set that came as the season journey reward, so I get to have swarms of minions and that’s definitely a play style I enjoy.

I got quite lucky and picked up some important cube items while leveling, and the scythe+shield set combo very early once I hit 70. That meant that over the course of the weekend I went from being carried by a friend to running T10 and carrying others in return. If Tasker & Theo would drop already then I’d have everything complete for the build suggested on Icy Veins. Even without it I’m getting close to GR60. One thing I don’t like about that build is there’s no room for a movement ability. So far I’ve been modifying it a bit so I can put a move ability on my bars because I find myself dying way too much without it. I’m pretty sure that my ability to push into higher GRs is going to be limited with this set because of that, so I’ve been collecting the other ones too. I managed to get the Trag’oul and Inarius sets already, so I can try those out and see if I like them better.

Screenshot037I am extremely happy to report that in addition to my season progress, I also picked up the Necromancer wings on Sunday night. They’re a pretty sweet black/red recolor of the ones that come with the Necromancer pack, and you get them by completing all of the Necromancer class achievements. Luckily I had leveled my non-seasonal necro through the story to test it out when I bought it, so I already had the 2 story-related achieves out of the way going into the season. Most of the achievements were fairly easy to get through normal play, although things like letting your skeletons kill 500 elites took a bit of time. There were a few boss-specific ones that required some more forethought, but they weren’t too difficult. The trickiest one was having to kill your shadow clone using simulacrum during the Diablo encounter. I found some good advice that suggested lowering the difficulty way down, removing any gear that has thorns or any legendary gems that have damaging effects, and using simulacrum + blood nova. It took a couple tries to get the simulacrum to have the killing blow but compared to the silly things I’ve done for set dungeon masteries it was a cake walk.

Speaking of set mastery, I did master the Rathma’s set dungeon. I’ll probably do a write-up of all the Necro dungeons so I won’t go into tons of specifics here, but I will say that it wasn’t too bad. Getting one objective for completion for the season journey should be no problem for most folks. Now that I have my necro wings I’m eager to get back to my barbarian and finish mastering the last couple dungeons I need for the REALLY fancy wings. I got randomly grouped with someone who had them while running rifts the other night, and now I’m even more motivated to get them.

D3 Season 11 Starts Thursday!

Is anybody out there still excited about Diablo 3’s seasons? I mean I’m excited to really dig into a playthrough with a necromancer, and the new pet looks pretty great, but the season itself? Definitely lost a lot of its charm. It doesn’t help that I fully completed the season’s journey last time around, so there’s nothing much to aspire to. Many of my usual D3 buddies have stopped coming around for the season launch at all, although there’s still a few of us that still plan to team up on opening night.

Unlike previous seasons, S11 is starting on a Thursday. That’s bad news for trying to get to 70 or onto the leaderboards right away, but I’m not sure how much of a hurry I’ll be in this season anyway. I’ll be happy to get as far as I can in the few free hours I have, and then make the real push on Friday as usual. I don’t have any expectations for this season other than getting the cosmetic items. I also still have 3 barbarian set dungeons to master. I haven’t decided yet whether I want to go for the Masters of the Universe conquest again this season, and use it as an excuse to finish up the barbarian and necromancer dungeons. There are several conquests that are much easier this time, so it certainly isn’t necessary. I also already have most of the sets collected now on my non-seasonal barbarian, and I’m not sure I want to have to level and farm everything up again on a new one.

It actually feels pretty nice to go into the season with very low expectations. There’s no pressure, I can take things at my own pace, and once I get my cosmetic goodies I don’t have to feel bad if I get distracted by something shiny and wander away for a while. I’m especially glad that I can put the new necromancer through its paces without worrying about having to play it at a high enough level for the Conqueror or Guardian tiers. A nice chill D3 season is just what I need to distract me from the fact that we’re starting on Omega Savage this week in FFXIV.

Monk Set Mastery

Monk is probably the class I have played the least in D3. I mean I don’t love the barbarian, but I had at least leveled one to 70. Not so with Monk. That made a bit of extra challenge, since I had to spend a lot of time leveling and farming to get reasonable gear for this project. After having done these dungeons, I still don’t really enjoy monk, but I’m not as intimidated and annoyed at playing melee.

MonkBanner

The first monk dungeon I tried was the Inna’s Mantra one, entirely because that’s the first full set I found via my farming. That might have been a mistake. Inna’s is one of the dungeons where too much power is a terrible thing. The objectives are to avoid getting frozen, which is incredibly easy, and to unleash mystic allies on 10 enemies within 10 yards (x5). Unfortunately my allies were a bit too helpful and kept killing the enemies well before I could round up a group of 10. I had to play a game of stripping off my legendary gems and swapping out gear until I got to a point where I could meet this objective even once in the dungeon, much less 5 times. I finally got it thanks to a combination of moving gear around and getting extremely lucky with spawns of enemies. In the end I had to remove one of my rings entirely, which seems questionable. Definitely a frustrating start to this group of dungeons.

Next up was the Dungeon of the Raiment of a Thousand Storms. The two objectives are very straightforward, reach the golden chest in under 2 minutes and do not get hit by a single succubus projectile. This took a couple tries, since you have to find a good balance between clearing the early parts of the dungeon and getting to the middle of the maze to hit the chest in time. The first few times through I could either hit the chest or clear enough enemies but not both. Eventually I found that clearing most of the straight outside path, rushing to the chest, then backtracking through the maze seemed to work pretty well. Even though it took a few attempts, this one felt more like a fun challenge than an annoyance. I liked it!

Third on the list was Uliana’s Stratagem. The first time through I didn’t complete either of the objectives, I’m not sure whether that is the fault of the dungeon or my unfamiliarity with monk. The requirements are to simultaneously explode 15 enemies marked with exploding palm (x4), and to take no fire damage at all. Only the elites have fire attacks, but unfortunately the dungeon itself has various fire traps in the floor you have to watch out for. This dungeon is also quite large and sprawling, so it pays to either look up a map or run it a couple times to get used to the layout. On my second attempt I got both objectives but was still missing around 50 enemies, simply because I hadn’t cleared fast enough. I ended up “cheating” the fire damage with the Star of Azkaranth, and got it on my 4th try.

Last but not least was the Sunwuko (Monkey King) set dungeon. The objectives are to maintain sweeping wind for the duration of the dungeon, and use decoys to hit 20 different enemies in 6 seconds (x5). On my first try of the dungeon, I both failed to keep up sweeping wind and also died because I was dumb. I got the mastery on the second attempt. I’d say this was definitely one of the easier dungeons to master. The map is big but manageable with dashing strike, and there were plenty of enemy groups to hit for the decoy objective. I think there’s a legendary belt that might have helped me keep up sweeping wind more easily, but I didn’t have it and I managed fine without it.

This group of set dungeons was a very mixed bag. They ranged from incredibly annoying (Inna’s), to very easy (Sunwuko’s). They also included one with a gimmick that I suspect some people probably hate but I thought was actually pretty fun (the golden chest in Thousand Storms). I was afraid at the outset that I was going to struggle more than usual with these since I had never played monk before, but it turned out not to be much worse than any of my other set dungeon struggles. Now only the barbarian stands between me and two pairs of awesome wings!